Fall in line for dancing workout
Despite being a long way from the country and western music scene of the United States, Hong Kong has a thriving community of line dancers who regularly get together for a dance party or to perform at fund-raising events around the city.
From 2002 to 2007, local line dancers held the world record for the highest number of people dancing together, with 12,168 taking part in a Community Chest charity event.
So what is it that attracts people to this activity?
'People are attracted to learning line dancing because it is a form of low-impact aerobic exercise,' explains Lina Choi, founder of the Hong Kong Line Dancing Association (HKLDA, www.linachoi.com).
'Line dancing is suitable for all age groups and fitness levels. No previous dance experience is required, and you can dance in a group or without a partner.'
While traditional line dancing is based on country and western music, the technique has evolved over the years to include other styles of music and dance such as cha cha, waltz, boogie and funk, Choi adds. So, people can learn a variety of dances and move to a diversity of rhythms.
'Apart from the moderate physical and mental exercise one gets from line dancing, participation in this group activity also broadens one's social circle. It is not difficult to meet people from different age groups, socioeconomic, educational and cultural backgrounds.' The HKLDA runs classes from beginner to advanced levels at its Wan Chai studio. Fees are HK$90 for a 90-minute class and HK$120 for a two-hour class. Beginner classes are held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Call 9161 5030 for specific times.
Through its links with international line dancing associations, the HKLDA also invites professional instructors to conduct workshops and often welcomes line dancing students from overseas who are holidaying in Hong Kong to join its classes. This adds an international flavour to the classes.
'The benefits of line dancing are that it can help people have a better sense of rhythm and a solid idea of dancing,' says Cassidy To, administrator of Dance Routine (www.danceroutine.com.hk).
'Once they master the basics, it will become a lot easier for students to learn other dance styles. It is also a fun way to lose weight and exercise.'
Dance Routine offers line dancing classes at its Kowloon Bay studio in the evenings only. They cost HK$400 for four, one-hour lessons. Early and late classes are cheaper at HK$200 for four, one-hour lessons. If paid quarterly, there is a 10 per cent discount for all regular price classes.
Students who would like to use their classes as a way of losing weight and keeping fit should practise for about 30 minutes every two days, To says. This will help them keep in shape and memorise dance routines.
The studio also organises social events and dance parties so that students can use what they have learned in an enjoyable way.